Push for tighter gun laws in Switzerland

A coalition of Swiss professionals is campaigning for stricter gun laws. While the landlocked country has some of the lowest crime rates in Europe, it is still at the top of the list when it comes to gun violence. 

Lara Bullens
Lara Bullens NewsMavens, Western Europe
Push for tighter gun laws in Switzerland - NewsMavens
Gun, Flickr.

Why this story matters:

Ahead of the upcoming parliamentary debates, representatives of the Social Democratic Party (SP), the Swiss Police Officers Association (VSFB/FSFP) and the Swiss Federation of Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists (FMPP) joined forces in a bid to restrict access to firearms in Switzerland.

Switzerland is known to for its lax gun ownership laws. Anyone who carries out their mandatory military service can take their firearm home with them if they choose to, after applying for a permit and paying for the weapon. What's more, sport hunters and shooters in recognized state organizations don't need to carry a permit to own a gun. 

The tightening of gun ownership laws in the country will potentially align the country with the European Firearms Directive. 

Although Switzerland hasn't had a mass shooting since 2001 -- when a man stormed the local parliament in Zug, killing himself and 14 other people -- the country still struggles with gun violence.

Most suicides (three fourths) are from firearm wounds. Women, as the main victims of domestic abuse, also suffer from these relaxed gun laws. 

I grew up in Zug, and I clearly remember the mass shooting that occurred in my sleepy little town when I was a child. I've been waiting a long time to see gun law reforms hit the headlines, and this initiative is a heartening prospect. 

Details from the story:

  • The coalition plans to write a text to outline their reform propositions. This text has already been met with fierce opposition by pro-gun groups.
  • The coalition is happy with the way the gun law reform project is going, but would like to add a few more propositions. Namely:
    • Minors should no longer be allowed to rent or borrow guns for shooting practice (like during the 'Knabenschiessen' festival);
    • There should be stricter conditions to keep guns after military service (minimum amount of years served, shooting practice succeeded, no psychological problems);
    • Sport shooters/hunters should have stricter and more frequent check-ups;
    • Police should know whether or not a person has a firearm before they intervene;
  • Yearly, there are 200 victims of gun violence in Switzerland.
  • Three fourths of all suicides in Switzerland are linked to the use of firearms. 
  • Women are often victims of gun violence in cases of domestic violence. 
  • There are about 2 million guns for 8.3 million people in Switzerland. 

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